Helping Moms Through Depression
By Kristen Kill
“Does anyone care? Can anyone really understand?” These are the resounding questions of a woman suffering from depression. Authentic, trusting relationships are vital to a woman’s recovery and her ability to cope and heal. You can respond. You can be a bearer of hope and encouragement. Help a mom experiencing depression when you:
Listen, observe and make eye contact to focus on what a woman with depression is sharing with you. When you’re attentive, you’ll not only show your friend that you care and want to be with her, but you also will be better able to observe any serious changes in her situation that may call for outside help. Embrace an attitude of joyful calm, indicating that your friend is not a burden, but that you love her unconditionally.
Try not to invalidate a woman’s emotions with cliché comments or advice about how she can make her life better. A woman with depression has pain and hurt that are very real to her. Instead, take her seriously and respond by being a voice of truth, communicating her true identity with affirmation about how you see her, love her and what you appreciate about her.
Pray with your friend, right there on the spot! Jesus is longing to meet the needs of a woman suffering from depression and promises to participate in her journey to wholeness! Prayer together might seem uncomfortable at first, but you can trust that God will be your strength as you bless another mom in this way. You’ll be surprised by how prayer will bond your friendship and bring hope to her situation.
Get moving! The benefits of exercise have been proven to lift a person’s mood and can be a significant part of a woman’s recovery from depression. Not only will she benefit from the exercise, but the routine of a workout will help her gain a sense of control in a time when life seems overwhelming. Even walking in the neighborhood can be effective. Help your friend develop physical pursuits that you can do together such as: tennis, basketball, cycling or just a trip to the gym.
Serve together. Bring perspective into your friend’s life by helping her to be outwardly focused. Consider an activity such as cooking a meal together to give to another mom in need, volunteering at a local shelter or visiting patients in the hospital. Opportunities that help a woman with depression consider what she’s thankful for will bring a fresh outlook on her life.
Take care of yourself. Be sure that as you become a genuine ambassador of hope to a woman with depression, you also are taking care of yourself. You won’t be able to serve anyone if your needs are not being met. While you’re helping your friend through her crisis, ask your spouse or another friend to help you around the house or with other activities.
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This article originally appeared in MOMSense magazine, January/February 2007, MOPS International, Inc.